Budget strain won't stop state and local IT funding, report says

Despite facing billions of dollars in budget deficits, states will find the funds necessary for mission-critical technology projects in 2003, according to the market research firm of Input Inc., Chantilly, Va.

'Homeland security drives most of the mission-critical projects that will be moving forward this year,' said Meredith Luttner, Input's manager of state and local market development services.

'States cannot afford to put programs that are critical to constituent safety, such as public safety communications systems and health networks, on hold,' Luttner said. 'States are compelled to solve fiscal problems without instituting cuts that threaten these important projects.'

In addition to homeland security, states are expected to find the funds necessary to continue with essential technology programs in the areas of health care and education, Input said.

The findings are based on a report Input conducted of the top 2003 program priorities in Virginia, New Jersey and California. The report reviews 2003 priorities in the three states and highlights specific projects slated for procurement this year.

Of the states covered in the report, California and New Jersey are moving forward with projects to construct and implement enhanced 911 networks and automated child enforcement systems, while California and Virginia are undertaking projects to enhance information security.

The study acknowledges that program priorities and the depth of the budget problem vary from state to state.

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, the aggregate budget shortfall among the states is about $50 billion.

Input recommends that integrators and other technology companies need to remain close to the states, monitor program development and changes, and keep abreast of budgets for mission-critical areas that despite shortfalls will still receive funding.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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